Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) went to a great school, got a great job, and is about to be named partner of her law firm…so why doesn’t she feel happy? As she’s having a nervous breakdown over this, she runs into Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), her childhood boyfriend from camp, who’s giving up on the New York life to move back to his hometown, West Covina, CA. Realizing being with Josh was the last time she felt good about herself, Rebecca quits her job, ends her lease, and immediately moves to California to be with him. Only, there’s a catch: Josh has a girlfriend.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a hilarious and quirky TV musical, where each song is a very specific parody of a popular artist or genre. Between its songs and lovable cast, its positive messages regarding mental health and friendship, there’s no way to go wrong with this off-beat comedy.
Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) finds growing up in today’s modern world challenging, especially in the shadow of her next-to-perfect older brother Darian (Blake Jenner). This coming of age tale in the vein of The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles is candid and honest with humorous moments of what it’s like to be a teenager who just wants to have a real conversation with another human being in person and not through social media and their phone.
Her mother (Kyra Sedgwick) is busy with her own problems and oblivious to her daughter’s obvious struggles with school, friends, and social life. To make matters worse, her brother and her best friend find a romantic connection—which sends Nadine over the edge. Her one and only confidant, her history teacher (Woody Harrelson), seems to be the only constant in her life who actually pays her any real attention until one day the unexpected friendship of a thoughtful boy gives her a glimmer of hope.
If you enjoyed Juno, watch The Edge of Seventeen.
A delightfully charming musical romantic comedy, Bells Are Ringing stars Dean Martin and Judy Holliday. Ella is a kindhearted telephone answering service operator who can’t help but meddle in her customers’ lives: making love connections and arranging employment opportunities. She’s in love with one of her clients: Jeffrey, a playwright with writer’s block. The storyline is full of silliness and warmth, and the film is definitely one worth revisiting (and thanks to Debbie for the recommendation).
Directed by Vincente Minnelli (Meet Me in St. Louis, Designing Women, etc.).
The film opens with Hank Thompson (Paul Dano) being stranded on a deserted island, literally at the end of his rope, ready to give up hope of ever being rescued. He is startled when he sees another man (Daniel Radcliffe) wash up on the shore. Hank goes to rescue the man, but finds that he is already deceased. Despite this fact, this man’s body is able to perform an assortment of magical abilities that help Hank find freedom from the island. As they journey home, the body slowly comes to life as Hank begins to teach it about the world and what there is to live for.
Swiss Army Man is as unique of a story that can possibly be told, which is what makes it so attractive in an industry filled with cliché stories and reboots. It’s a beautiful story about friendship and how important it is to share and communicate with the people around us. This movie has a fair amount of adult humor, but this humor is complemented by the story’s beautiful views and lessons about life.
Radcliffe’s performance is particularly worth noting, as he plays a dead man who is slowly coming back to life and remembering what it means to truly live. The beautiful friendship that blossoms between these two characters is transcended to another level with a film score that uplifts the viewer with feelings of happiness toward the success of their travels back to civilization. With this being the directorial debut by the co-directors and co-writers simply known as Daniels, it begs the question, “What will these two come up with next, and how can they possibly top what they’ve already accomplished?”
John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones play America’s sweethearts (Eddie and Gwen): they’re actors who married, starred in several movies together, then split publicly and messily (sounds like real life, right?). The studio needs them to promote their final movie, and sends veteran publicist Lee (Billy Crystal) to control the chaos. Add Julia Roberts as Kiki, Gwen’s sister/assistant, and you’ve got America’s Sweethearts, a comedy about love and the ridiculousness of Hollywood.
In the mood to binge watch romantic comedies? We’ve got romantic comedies you’ll love – part 1 and part 2.
It’s Christmas Eve and Gus (Dennis Leary) is a burglar whose partner abandons him when their latest heist goes south. He is forced to take hostage Lloyd and Caroline Chasseur (Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis) – who are on their way home from marriage counseling – making them drive him to their home. Slowly, the rest of the family begins to arrive for their annual holiday celebration and Gus pretends to be Lloyd and Caroline’s marriage counselor. Little does he know that he will become the “counselor” for the entire dysfunctional family while he figures out a way to elude capture by the police.
The Ref is a dark comedy that takes the idea of a holiday movie and turns it on its head. The script is biting and sharp. Leary is best known for his sarcastic delivery and shines in the role of Gus. Spacey and Davis also are outstanding as the bickering couple who eventually realize they do love and care about each other. The rest of the cast is top notch and there are a number of well-known actors in cameo or supporting roles: B. D. Wong (Oz; Law & Order) as Dr. Wong, the Chasseur’s original marriage counselor; Christine Baranski (Cybill; The Good Wife) as demanding sister-in-law Connie; and J. K. Simmons (Law & Order; The Closer) as Siskel, the commander of the military school Lloyd and Caroline’s son Jesse is attending (little do they know that Jesse is blackmailing Siskel).
Granted, I know this movie isn’t for everyone. But, if you like dark comedies, a sharply written and delivered script, and something a little different to supplement all the maudlin and saccharin holiday fare that comes on this time of year, give this one a chance. It may just win you over.
The Lonely Island, perhaps known best for their SNL music videos and digital shorts, hit a home run with this musical mockumentary. Parodying documentary style films of popstars like Justin Bieber, this film focuses on star Connor4real (Andy Samberg), a former boy band member turned international sensation, whose sophomore album has just dramatically flopped. Connor struggles to figure out who he is when he isn’t being adored by millions of fans and is forced to confront the fallout with his former best friend when he quit the boy band of which they were once part.
Popstar is full of laughs, inside jokes, and pop culture references, and is positively littered with comedy and musical stars, including Usher, Adam Levine, Sarah Silverman, Joan Cusack, Jimmy Fallon, and Chelsea Peretti, just to name a few.
Although this is a movie you can watch any time of year, I always seem to revisit Love Actually in December. Set in London, the film follows eight loosely related couples in the month leading up to Christmas. It’s not all happy endings in this romantic dramedy, but I’d still call this one a feel good movie. One of my favorite moments is Hugh Grant’s dance scene through 10 Downing Street (he plays the prime minister). You’ll see lots of other familiar faces including Colin Firth, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Andrew Lincoln, and Martin Freeman.
In the mood for a Christmas movie? We’ve got a whole list.
Saving Mr. Banks is an engaging drama about Walt Disney’s quest to win the movie rights to the classic children’s fantasy Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. Inspired by his daughters’ love of the series and motivated by his determined personality, Disney will not relent. Travers (portrayed by Emma Thompson), just as stubborn as Disney, refuses to let her masterpiece succumb to the big screen and most of all, transform into a musical with animated figures. She ignores her grim financial outlook and the encouragement of her agent and remains in seclusion for years.
Finally, she agrees to a short trip to the Disney studio offices in California. Once there, Walt Disney tries everything in his business arsenal to win her over, including a trip to Disneyland. It is finally a very personal insight into both characters that seals the deal. Tom Hanks does an excellent job portraying the many sides of American icon Walt Disney.
I thoroughly enjoyed this madcap comedy starring award-winning actors Nicholas Cage, Jessica Parker, and James Caan. Jack (Nicholas Cage) promises his mother on her deathbed that he won’t get married. After his longtime girlfriend Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) gives him an ultimatum, he decides to elope in Las Vegas. Jack loses a high stakes poker game to gambler Tommy (James Caan) and agrees to let Betsy spend the weekend with Tommy to wipe out the debt. He whisks her off to Kauai. There happens to be a convention of Elvis impersonators at the hotel that adds to the wackiness of the film. The Elvis songs played throughout Honeymoon in Vegas add to the enjoyment.
If you like watching Nicholas Cage, you might like Moonstruck.